As consumer expectations continue to grow in an ever-evolving digital landscape, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time. 

Utilising first-party data and a strategic plan to identify and convey a brand message at most valuable moments throughout a consumer’s interactions with a brand is critical to achieving multi-moment marketing maturity.

What is first party data again?

First-party data is proprietary information collected directly from the user with consent. It derives directly from the customer’s behaviours, actions and interests across a platform, through loyalty or subscription programs, social information and from customer interactions. 

We’ve discussed in other posts but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate it one more time – as third-party cookies are eliminated from the web, first-party data is a crucial element to gaining a competitive edge online. 

Multi-moment digital marketing maturity is synonymous with….

dynamic executions across multiple channels that are optimised towards individual customer business outcomes and transactions.

These businesses have robust linking between online and offline journeys and an omni-channel engagement strategy. They have an agile approach to audience management and automation and deeply personalised messaging in their customer experience

This evolution is rippling across the world wide web as marketers look to implement new technologies to responsibly gather and utilise first-party data to provide the experience users desire with the privacy they deserve. 

In a recent study

Google partnered with Boston Consulting Group to understand how advertisers are using first-party data to successfully drive business and achieve multi-moment maturity. 

Ninety per cent of companies who took part in Google’s research agree first-party data is critical to marketing success however only one per cent are utilising that data to fully deliver cross-channel experiences. 

Many believe the sheer collection of data correlates to success however unnecessary information not only burdens the customer but can increase the cost of technology and management strategies and the risk of privacy breaches.

9 out of 10 companies who took part in the research agreed that first party data is critical to marketing success however only 2% are utilising that data to fully deliver cross-channel experiences.

Just as unnecessary data collection can be the catalyst for failure, so too can a poorly executed strategy. 

Google found brands who experienced success, developed a comprehensive strategy, tested and measured results to determine the best activation method and built robust in-house capabilities while outsourcing and working with strategic partners for expertise. 

These businesses invested significant time in developing clear strategic goals for the collection and data, identified essential information and calculated associated risks and costs to develop a pathway forward. 

Datisan CEO and co-founder Chris Rozic says,

2020 showed everyone just how important it is to have confidence in your data and analytics. It demonstrated the consequences of not investing in business critical foundations that drive your business reporting and customer activations.

Digital transformation is about more than simply data

While the collection of first-party data through machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation allows marketers to gain an in-depth understanding of the customer journey, it is critical to align a strategy to your people, culture and goals. 

“The hardest step in progressing digital marketing maturity can often be just getting started,” Chris Rozic says. 

Once the right people and data are together . . . the outcomes of maturity projects can make a significant impact.

Only two per cent of businesses are realising the full potential of data-driven marketing and while digital marketing maturity looks different at every stage, a key differentiator between ‘nascent’ and ‘multi-moment’ is the unification of first-party data. 

“We haven’t seen a brand get to multi-moment maturity overnight. It requires ongoing commitment and reflection. However, it is encouraging to see so many brands in Australia taking steps to meet today’s consumer expectations.”

Datisan is the leading digital marketing maturity partner that focuses on leveraging data to enhance customer experience. Speak to the Datisan team about how we can future-proof your customer experience and personalisation.

There’s a fine line between privacy of personal information and the convenience of personalisation online today.

With the popularisation of information about data privacy being highlighted in recent media and documentaries, it has brought what was in the past –  a topic purely for marketers and data experts – to the forefront of the general population’s mind.

Trust in organisations to protect privacy online is declining and the desire to shield personal information is growing stronger for customers, yet a positive personalised experience remains key to creating business success. 

This evolution is rippling across the world wide web as marketers look to implement new technologies to responsibly gather and utilise first-party data to provide the experience users desire with the privacy they deserve. 

According to the Australian government’s recent Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey.

9 in 10 people say they want more choice and contril over their personal information online.

The survey highlighted how desire is driven by experience and the top priority when considering a new digital service now is privacy; ahead of reliability, convenience and price. 


Customer-centricity is not a new concept – it’s the key to creating any successful business.

In the past Google, Apple and Facebook employed technologies such as third-party cookies to provide an all access view of the user. Whilst these techniques were successful in delivering a personalised experience, the news cycle, documentaries and tech companies have exposed the full extent of cross-site cookies in recent years resulting in a rise in consumer awareness and decline in trust. 

“First party data is a business’ biggest asset and represents an opportunity to build a unique customer experience and defensible competitive advantage,” Datisan CEO and Co-Founder Chris Rozic says. 

Google’s Privacy Sandbox project has highlighted the importance of protecting consumer information as it iterates its plan to eliminate third-party cookies from Chrome by the end of 2023. 

“We have seen a number of businesses approach data as part of the digital marketing maturity process. What we have found is that while initially there can be some challenges getting the right people and data together… ” Chris says,  

… once a cross-organisational team is formed and aligned to the digital marketing improvement process, it becomes a really exciting journey to be part of and the outcomes of the projects can make a significant impact.

Now, as Apple introduces ‘Opt In’ and consent notifications to its iOS 14.5 and15 devices, we can expect many users will remain opted out of cross-site tracking.

Many marketing and customer experience teams are wanting to future-proof their businesses by utilising first-party data.

Datisan’s CTO Matt Daniels says, “It’s imperative that they ensure granular consent mechanisms are implemented using clear language about what that consent means. Customers need to read and understand what it is that they’re opting into.”

Consumers deserve to be able to make educated decisions on who they allow to access personal information and a law degree shouldn’t have to be a prerequisite. Verizon’s Dan Richardson told Mumbrella in his recent research that

79% of consumers are actually unaware of the changes to third-party tracking, cookies, data privacy, and ad IDs, but at the same time, 76% of consumers said they’re very concerned about data privacy, which is up 27 points from two years ago. 

It’s possible for brands and digital marketers to acquire the necessary data while protecting privacy and enhancing consumer satisfaction. But marketers also have a responsibility to educate consumers and use simple language around first and third-party data collection to allow customers to feel confident in the choices they’re making.

Datisan is a privacy-centric data partner that focuses on leveraging data to enhance customer experience. Speak to the Datisan team about how we can future-proof your customer experience and personalisation.

The move to first party data shouldn’t be delayed

There seemed to be a lot of relief that this impending cookie-less future was further away when Google announced  last Friday that they are delaying Chrome’s cookie-blocking privacy plan until 2023.

But the time to connect with your customers is now. The deadline that had been looming was the catalyst for brands to reflect on the way we target and market to audiences. This reflection should not stop.

I get that transitioning to a first and zero party data strategy can be challenging, particularly if it’s just one of a number of digital transformation projects on the go. And the delayed deadline may mean that it’s a project that is no longer an immediate priority.

First party data is your business’s biggest asset, and represents an opportunity for your business to build a unique customer experience and defensible competitive advantage. By unlocking this value, the death of the third party cookie has less impact, especially when you’re leveraging your biggest asset the right way.

Safari and Firefox have already deprecated third party cookies and there will still be a reliance on cookies and first party data in the near term; the evolution of measurement solutions will not happen overnight. It’s an encouraging step that Google wants to iterate their Privacy Sandbox solutions further. 

Don’t wait until third party cookies are gone

My suggestion is to take the momentum that has been built around first party data and implement a strategy as soon as possible. This will provide a longer runway for testing, learning and iteration. 

This could mean investing to solve for customer privacy, evaluating new adtech and martech, and getting current customer data fit for purpose. Ensuring there is durable measurement and tagging in place plus an investment in additional sources of first party data are two excellent steps to progress with.

Having richer, more complete information on your customers will allow your brand to create more tailored strategies and connect with more personalised customer experiences, resulting in better retention, increased brand engagement and loyalty.

To find out more about how you can better capture data from your customers and in turn create better experiences please get in contact with me or the Datisan team.

Need a reminder on what is interpreted as first and zero party data? Read our blog post from 2020 here.

The doors to the digital retail world are wide open.

Reduced in-store visits amplified by Covid-19 have increased demand. With this, retailers are realising (if they hadn’t before 2020) that a highly personalised experience is essential to establishing and maintaining their customer loyalty online.

Within several months, the global pandemic not only amplified differences between retail leaders and laggards, but seriously condensed the timeline available to play ‘catch up’ in digital transformation and e-commerce.

Retailers of all sizes need to be one step ahead of their customers’ needs and their competitors’ next innovation, requiring agility, adaptability and a digital transformation mindset. Adoption of AI is the backbone of digital transformation. 

Ecommerce specialists can rest a little easier though, with the ever-evolving opportunities and automation of recommendations engines to drive transformation. 

How do recommendations think they know what I want?

In basic terms, recommendation systems are a set of algorithms that give you recommendations based on your history. Common examples of where you have seen a recommendation system in action would be eBay or Amazon – you would see similar products displayed under the particular product you have chosen to explore.

This isn’t a new discussion or retail strategy though – a study in 2017 by Boston Consulting Ground found,  “Brands that create personalized experiences by integrating advanced digital technologies and proprietary data for customers are seeing revenue increase by 6% to 10% — two to three times faster than those who don’t.”

The future of recommendations 

So that’s basic AI – advanced AI recommendation algorithms are much further along than that and can look into demographic data, social media impressions and digital footprints of consumers to decode their interests. 

In January 2021, Google announced the launch of a whole suite of solutions designed to support retailers enhance their ecommerce capabilities and deliver personalised consumer experiences. One of these is Google’s Recommendations AI, which is now out of beta.

Google’s Recommendations AI (or Recs AI) is a sophisticated analysis tool created specifically to inform users in delivering personalised recommendations to customers.

This technology shifts the emphasis from specific product recommendations to the individual and how their viewing history informs their purchasing decisions, says Google Product Manager Pallav Mehta.

Its context-hungry deep learning models use item and user metadata to draw insights across millions of items at scale and constantly iterate on those insights in real time in a way that is impossible for manually curated rules to keep up with.

Recommendations AI draws on years of experience in delivering user-specific content across Google Ads, Google Search and YouTube.  Data is drawn from the retailer’s catalog and Google Cloud services such as Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics 360, Cloud Storage, Big Query and Merchant Centre. With a capacity to support catalogues of tens of millions of items, models are based on the objective; engagement, revenue or conversions. 

New models can be developed within two to five days depending upon the complexity and are previewed prior to publishing. Existing models can be re-trained daily to capture changing catalogues, items with sparse data and user insights.  Since Google began trialling the technology, users have reported an increase in online revenue. 

So there is value and reward for both the brand and their customer?

Absolutely. Personalised product recommendations using AI/ML can improve customer omni-channel experiences by providing individualised product suggestions and other communications (e.g. online and in-store messaging) – not only to a given customer but also to specific moments within a customer/shopping journey.

Highly relevant recommendations can be powerful drivers of basket expansion and increased order value for a brand – and they can also lead to an enhanced customer experience as well. Shopper loyalty increases when trust grows that recommendations reflect personal taste and enable discovery of new products. 

Tom Sowerby, Datisan’s Head of Cloud and Martech, says,

Providing timely recommendations to customers is a big step in the right direction, but the real value comes when you train these models based on a full set of customer data from both online and offline behaviour. Leveraging all the data you hold in a way that’s useful to your customers is the difference between an okay customer experience and a great one.

Value: Recognised or Blocked?

What makes a retailer more likely to succeed in capturing value from AI / ML?

Based on Google Cloud’s research, there are 5 key factors that retailers have identified as the top enablers for success. Together, these factors lead to approximately 60% of the value capture.

Top 5 enablers of value for specialty retailers

And if there is a top five enablers of value, there has to be be a top five about what makes a retailer less likely to succeed in capturing value from the use cases around AI and ML. 

Google’s research found that there were 5 key barriers that retailers, who have captured less than the expected value from the implementation of these use cases, identified as the drivers for potential failure. 

Grouped, these barriers are cited on average 60% of the time when retailers surveyed for the research looked back at initiatives that failed to deliver the full potential they targeted.

Success with Recommendations AI?

The customer loyalty of beauty brand Sephora, who has thousands of stores globally, has circulated online with a 50 per cent increase in click through rate (CTR) on product pages since implementing Recommendations AI. 

“We wanted to deliver the same highly personalised shopping experience to our clients on our digital platforms that they receive in our physical stores”

Says Jaclyn Luft, Manager of Site Personalisation and Testing at Sephora. “We started working with Google Cloud to explore how we could leverage its innovative machine learning technology to provide enhanced personalisation to our online customers through product recommendations.”

A 2% increase in overall conversion rates, relative to the previous machine learning recommendations, has convinced Sephora to expand their application of Recommendations AI to “power recommendations on other areas of our ecosystem, such as within the checkout flow and in our emails.”

This highly personalised touch allows retailers to create an experience that fosters a sense of loyalty from its customers, crucial to their online success. 

The accelerated adoption of AI/ML will have wide-ranging effects. For retailers who move fast, the outcome will be more resilience in operation despite the uncertainties in the world – and the opportunity to focus on serving their consumers in the emerging new ‘normal’ environment.

Another brand which has had success utilising Recs AI is Hanes Australasia. You can read more about Hanes Australasia’s experience here.

When we A/B tested the recommendations from Recommendations AI against our previous manual system, we identified a double-digit uplift in revenue per session.

Peter Luu, Online Analytics Manager, Hanes Australasia

How can this apply to my business?

Capturing value through recommendations requires only a small cross-functional team and relatively little change management, but some business process changes may still be required to deliver the full potential over time. 

Many businesses have found that working with partners helps fill the vacuum of talent limitations and often acts as a bridge to support true cross-functional teaming and organisational collaboration to achieve the best value from AI in this space.


Datisan is a trusted Google Cloud Partner in Australia and New Zealand – certified in multiple expertise areas, including retail. Drop the Datisan team an email to find a time to discuss how Recommendations AI could be incorporated into your customer strategy.

Source

… is critical to Datisan’s vision of creating better experiences and it is really exciting when we grow our capabilities in this space.

Welcome to our new Customer Success Manager, Alick Homann! 

Alick joins Datisan in our Brisbane office from Platinum Electrical and Air, where he was the Business Unit Manager for their growing IT and structured cabling department. 

Alick has six years of experience in the IT software and infrastructure industry working for various companies such as Cisco, HPE and Nutanix,  and has collaborated with businesses like JBS Swift, QUT, Sunsuper and Glencore to help consolidate infrastructure to enable cloud adoption, scalable infrastructure (both data centre and network) and software driven topologies. 

Through his years of experience, Alick has developed a customer-centric approach to helping solve complex business challenges by aligning customer outcomes with the right mix of technology.

When asked about his passion for the client success and engagement Alick commented,

I have a great passion for helping customers understand and navigate emerging technologies to solve their challenges. I love taking a solution from concept to deployment with a customer, and I am excited to apply my background to data and analytics to help create compelling, data-driven customer experiences.

Alick will be working closely across Datisan’s clients in adtech, martech and cloud, with the purpose of driving strong relationships and managing project outcomes.

new start Alick Homann
Alick Homann, Datisan’s latest Customer Success Manager

Datisan’s Head of Business Development, Mike Cornwell, welcomes Alick to Client Success team by saying,

It’s exciting to have welcomed Alick to the growing Datisan team and great to see our customer success function start to scale. Alick has shown impressive credentials in understanding what value represents for our customer’s and mapping it back to technology and work streams.

When asked about joining Datisan Alick said,

It’s a great time to be joining the Datisan team – I’ve already been a part of their annual DATA Day which was an awesome way to meet, and collaborate with, my new colleagues. Datisan is a respected brand in the market that has exceptional talent at the helm – I’m expecting to gain a lot of knowledge along the way.  I am eager to use my experience in software and infrastructure to help clients create positive experiences for their customers while driving cross-channel revenue generation and improving their overall ROI.

Welcome to Team Datisan Alick!

Interested in working with Datisan? Check out our Careers Page for open roles or apply through our Talent Pool.

Introducing Sumen Pooni 

We’re so excited to share with you Datisan’s newest team member – Sumen joins Datisan in our Brisbane office from the University of Queensland, where he was the Marketing Intelligence Analyst responsible for digital data, analytics and insights for UQ’s International team.

Sumen has over 10 years of experience in the digital marketing industry, working for various organisations such as digital agencies, Microsoft Bing’s Data team and News Corp Australia,  specialising in using data, analytics and marketing technology to help organisations overcome technical and technological challenges and help improve overall customer experience and ROI.

Sumen Pooni, Datisan’s new Data Analytics Specialist

Throughout his career over these years, Sumen has developed great passion to contribute to organisations’ growth and development through thoughtful integrated planning and research to deliver positive digital marketing data and analytics solutions and outcomes that produce sustainable growth. 

When asked about his passion for the industry Sumen commented,

I have great passion for understanding and using emerging technology platforms in an integrated manner to improve overall user experience. I love the opportunity to be able to use data and analytics to drive business decisions and enable data-driven marketing and growth hack marketing strategies to help organisations to deliver a positive experience for their customers and develop sustainable growth for their organisations. Furthermore, I love to use data to tell compelling stories.

Sumen will be working closely with Datisan’s Head of Cloud and Martech, Tom Sowerby, on our Analytics services.

Tom was enthusiastic about Sumen joining the team saying,

Sumen is a welcome addition to Datisan in 2021 and his expertise is already evident to our wider team and clients. I’m looking forward to seeing his unique blend of martech and business skills create better experiences for our clients and their customers.

When asked about joining Datisan Sumen said,

I am really excited about joining Datisan – getting to work with some of the brightest minds in the space and I hope to gain a lot of knowledge along the way. I am really eager to use my experience in digital marketing plus my technical skills in data and analytics to help clients create positive experiences for their customers while driving cross-channel revenue generation and improving their overall ROI.

Welcome to Team Datisan Sumen!

Interested in working with Datisan? Check out our Careers Page for open roles or apply through our Talent Pool.

Get in touch to find out how we can help transform your business by booking a consultation with Mike Cornwell, here. 

A cookie-less future is nigh.

The landscape of online advertising is evolving and the shift towards a more privacy-focused ecosystem of marketing is dawning. 

It may feel that there’s no escaping the prying eye of the web today as location services, fingerprinting and cookies keep tabs on our every search; however Google has found a solution to monetise our browsing habits using a less invasive system. Google’s Privacy Sandbox project, announced by Chrome in August of 2019, aims to ‘build innovations that protect anonymity while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers’. Step one meant the phase-out of third-party cookies by the end of 2021 and introducing a less invasive advertising tool which is safer and more secure. 

Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC, aims to protect the individual user’s identity and data while allowing publishers to continue to provide personalised, data-driven advertising.  An alternative to cookies, FLoC analyses your browsing behaviour to group you with like-minded people (a cohort). The individual user continues to experience targeted and relevant advertising whilst remaining shielded in a sea of similarity and anonymity. 

Google’s preliminary data shows that advertisers ‘can expect to see at least 95 per cent of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising’. Specific results will be dependent on the ‘strength of the clustering algorithm’ as Google calls it, and the specific cohort targeted. 

So, how will it work exactly? Chrome uses algorithms to assign an individual user a cohort ID based on the sites visited. For example, users who regularly search for real estate and puppy videos are grouped in one cohort and those who search for real estate and cars are sorted into another. 

Your cohort is calculated from your scrolling history over the past seven days, and comprises only a few thousand people at a time, allowing publishers to present advertising content which is specific enough to be relevant to the cohort but not as direct or invasive as individually tracked data. 

Chrome has begun trialling the technology in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines so far and plans to go globally in the coming months. 

If you have blocked third-party cookies or disabled personalisation in your Google Ad settings, you won’t be included in the trial otherwise Google will use your Chrome login as the first step to include you.  

While it might seem counter-productive to provide advertisers with less specific evidence-based information, rising community awareness on the lack of privacy online is threatening the industry and blocked cookies are costing businesses revenue. 

FLoC is only one of the privacy preserving alternatives that Google is launching that will allow individuals the privacy we all desire while advertisers continue to gather data to inform marketing decisions.  

Source

Drop the Datisan team an email to discuss how best prepare for a cookie-less future.

In exciting news, Datisan is now partnering with innovative technology platform Fivetran to provide even better and more efficient outcomes for our clients and their technology needs.

This partnership complements Datisan’s other marketing and technical relationships, as the first full stack sales partner for Google in Australia and New Zealand across Google Cloud and Google Marketing Platform.

Matt Daniels, Chief Technology Officer of Datisan, said of the partnership,

Data integration and pipelines have always been seen as a necessary evil, but often take an inordinate amount of time to deliver. Partnering with Fivetran allows us to extremely rapidly deploy production ready pipelines for our clients. This in turn allows them to get to the real value generation from their data – insights and activation – in weeks, not months or even years!

Fivetran provides reliable access to analysis-ready data for analysts to query at any time. They currently offer over 150 fully managed, automated connectors for databases, applications, events, files and functions, allowing businesses to extract data from any source. They are known for delivering zero-maintenance pipelines and ready-to-query schemas.

Read more about Fivetran here.

Datisan CEO Chris Rozic agreed that this was an exciting addition to Datisan’s existing partnerships, stating,

Fivetran enables Datisan to help our customers meet the personalisation needs of their customers. Data freshness and the ability for marketers to rely upon an integrated, real time ecosystem is only as good as the data quality, and the speed it gets there.

If connecting multiple data sources and data freshness are important to your business, speak with our team today about how we can support your digital marketing, data or cloud objectives.

If it hasn’t already, artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to a contact centre near you – and not just in the form of the ubiquitous chatbots that pop up with their friendly greetings on sites you visit. 

Industries are always looking to up their game when it comes to their marketing, customer service and experience, and one way many are doing this is by integrating contact centre AI, with 20% of all customer service requests expected to be handled by AI by 2022.

Contact Centre AI can help to provide a more effective and efficient customer experience, while saving businesses time and money by simplifying and easily integrating into their current workflow systems.

This is one of the most important ways businesses respond to and meet customers needs

It does this by providing human-like conversations via virtual agents. This increases time and cost efficiency, by minimising the time live agents are online and providing answers to simple, frequently-asked questions, to which solutions can easily be applied. 

So how are real businesses utilising Contact Centre AI and what are the benefits of its implementation? 

Marks and Spencer is one company that successfully integrated Google Cloud’s Contact Center AI (CCAI) with their workflow, enabling them to report an improvement of more than 10 seconds in its average handling time. Live agents are more satisfied as they no longer have to redirect calls and can work on more complex customer inquiries. Customers are also happier and in turn, brand loyalty has increased significantly. 

GoDaddy has had a similar success rate by using Virtual Agent, powered by Dialogflow CX, a chatbot component of Google’s CCAI, which enhances the customer experience by allowing the business to create virtual agents that are able to handle all enquiries and offer simple solutions to frequently asked questions, meaning that more complex issues are passed on to live agents. 

Tell me more about Dialogflow

Popular US streaming service Hulu has also integrated this technology, by using Contact Centre AI to respond quickly and efficiently to customer enquiries. With quick responses to frequently asked questions, and automatic responses that help customers get the best experience possible.

With AI becoming more progressive and the future of marketing leaning into new technologies, is now the time to invest in Contact Centre AI?

Marketsandmarkets predicts that the market for AI technology in contact centres will increase from $800 million in 2019 to $2.8 billion by 2024. From increased customer satisfaction rates, to reducing live agent chat time, to automating business workflow, the proof is in the pudding.

When asked to share his thoughts for future trends in Datisan’s latest Digital Marketing Maturity Growth Report, Xpon Technologies Founder and Group Managing Director, Matt Forman says,

2021 will be one of the most exciting years yet for marketers that have invested in getting their data in order and ready to take advantage of the change and automation that modern cloud based AI and ML will deliver.

What else did our 2020 Digital Marketing Maturity Growth Report find? Download your free copy here.

Contact Centre AI will not only have a positive impact on customers and clients, but also on the cost effectiveness of business and on contact centre staff, with reduced live agent time and the ability of Contact Centre AI to handle smaller enquiries and complaints.

Watch Google’s video below on Contact Center AI:

To find out how you can drive call centre efficiencies with Google Cloud, get in touch with Datisan today.


What is Dialogflow?

Part of Google Cloud Platform, Dialogflow is a lifelike conversational AI with state-of-the-art virtual agents. It is available in two editions: Dialogflow CX (advanced), Dialogflow ES (standard). 

Powered by Google’s leading AI, it supports rich, intuitive customer conversations in one comprehensive development platform for chatbots and voicebots. It’s goal is to improve the customer experience while increasing operational efficiency. Some of the key benefits of using Dialogflow include:

A Dialogflow agent is similar to a human call center agent. You train them both to handle expected conversation scenarios, and your training does not need to be overly explicit.

There has been a lot to update in February…

… the Media Code has been amended and passed, Google and media publishers came to the table to negotiate around News Showcase, and Facebook and the Australian government played chicken with the fate of news on social media, with Facebook banning Australians from seeing and sharing local and international news. 

Facebook news is back on now but why did it happen and what happens next?

The Code

See Datisan’s summary of the proposed code, opinions on the code and the events leading up to the Facebook Australian news ban on this page here.

Many people were more worried about Google turning off its local services than worrying about Facebook, based on communication in the market prior to February 17 2021, even though Facebook had released statements over the past six months that made it clear they didn’t think the code was workable.

But the social media company caused alarm with what was seen as a sudden decision in mid-February to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law. 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Facebook News Blackout

Facebook restricted access to news in Australia the same day as the announcement, as they wanted the change in place prior to the code being passed.

They advised that news makes up less than four per cent of what people see in their feeds, but you’d likely notice a difference when logging into the social network.

Will Easton, Managing Director, Facebook ANZ said,

There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between Facebook and news publishers.

And mistakenly, the blackout also cut access, at least temporarily, to government pandemic, public health and emergency services, fueling outrage. Facebook’s justification for including non-news pages was that the proposed law has a broad definition of news.

Easton also said,

As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted.

You can read more of that initial statement here.

Facebook’s victory came at the cost of a public relations disaster. Either accidentally or otherwise, its news ban had a chaotic public effect, blocking access to important information on emergency services pages in the midst of bushfires in Western Australia and flooding in Queensland.

After a week of what we suppose was furious negotiation and Google Meet or Zoom calls, Facebook advised that the platform would reinstate news pages, as it also deals with media outlets to come to agreements.

Facebook said it would continue to negotiate deals with Australian publishers, as mentioned in many media reports, like this one from The Guardian.

Easton mentions in regards to the negotiations,

We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The Verge describes the outpouring of public comment rather well, saying,

Of course, many critics were apoplectic that Facebook had taken this move, calling it a vile act of censorship, unchecked greed, and destruction of the public sphere.

Certainly the execution of the ban left something to be desired. Rather than building a blacklist of news sites to restrict, Facebook tried using its machine learning systems to identify news publishers, and the systems went predictably haywire.

…..
What was negotiated?

The amendments to the code which were negotiated between Facebook and the Australian government were outlined in a release from the Australian government.

Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed that the two sides agreed to amendments to the proposed legislation. The changes would give digital platforms one month’s notice before they are formally designated under the code. That would give those involved more time to broker agreements before they are forced to enter binding arbitration arrangements.

The New York Times notes that this appears to give Facebook more time to strike deals, similar to those reached by Google in the last couple of weeks. Campbell Brown, Facebook vice president for news partnerships said,

The  government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation.

So who won?

In the public forum, Facebook maybe didn’t realise how this would look and impact, you know, the users of its platform. Many went on to say that Facebook was implementing ‘bully tactics’.

The ABC noted that both sides think they won, as they both gained concessions.

Josh Frydenberg, the Liberal party’s deputy leader who spearheaded the new law, said this was a significant milestone.

This legislation will help level the playing field and see Australian news media businesses paid for generating original content.

Source: abc.net.au

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says the law will address a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.

According to Frydenburg, the amendments will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for the use of their content by the digital platforms.

The ABC did well promoting its news app in the wake of uncertainty about the flow of news, becoming the number one downloaded free app in the Apple Store within 48 hours of the blackout

But the ABC also noted that it might be harder for small digital players to start news websites. Gathering an audience will be more expensive and take longer without Facebook. Read more here

Jeff Jarvis, a journalism expert from the City University of New York, said media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who owns most of Australia’s major newspapers through his U.S-based News Corp, is the biggest winner while smaller titles and new media startups would suffer most.

Murdoch’s media empire was seen as a driving force behind the Australian legislation, which he noted includes a requirement for media companies to earn at least $150,000 AUD in revenue to be eligible.

Where was Google in all of this?

Google also suggested initially that it would have to pull its search engine from the country if the law came into force, but it later walked back its plans. Instead, Google chose to ink deals with media organisations to pay them for news content via News Showcase.

Source Giphy

Read Datisan’s summary of the News Showcase launch here.

Melanie Silva, Managing Director of Google Australia published a new open letter addressing the issue, which can be viewed here.

Our consistent ask has been that we avoid legislative proposals that would break the fundamental principle of the web – that it should be free and easy to link to websites. By establishing a program to pay news publishers, News Showcase offers a constructive path forward.

Having mounted a strong PR and communication strategy about the potential withdrawal of services, Google was able to successfully negotiate with many additional publishers post-launch, while also being able to leverage and enjoy the concessions Facebook as negotiated.

Professor Leaver, Curtin University, speaking to the ABC confirms this by saying,

Google comes out of the Facebook news ban looking good.

 

What about public opinion?

The question regarding whether this will have long-term adverse impacts to Google or Facebook is yet to be seen but a number of opinions were published about this in the past two weeks, even though the issue has left the main news cycle for the moment.

Facebook’s decision to block access to pages like 1800Respect, the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Bureau of Meteorology was unnecessary, heavy-handed and will damage its reputation, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Michael Tibbles, digital media manager, MediaSmiths, as quoted in AdNews, said

While the move by Facebook to remove Australian news is a highly risky PR move, it is unlikely to result in a loss of significant ad revenue in the short term.

Rebecca Wilson, CEO of Starts at 60, wrote a widely-shared opinion piece for Mumbrella that highlighted her worry that the over 60s voice has been silenced by this brinkmanship between the government and the media platforms.

The Urban List founder and CEO Susannah George welcomed the news of a restored Facebook and felt that the intent from Facebook to support small and local publishers was heartening, when speaking with AdNews.

Diversity of voices is vital to Australia’s cultural fabric – diversity driven by the home-grown, digital-first publishers that champion our small businesses, events, tourism and arts scene.

Pedestrian.tv had a strong reaction to losing the opportunity to share their news on the social platform (some swearing here). But thankfully the Betoota Advocate wasn’t caught up in the chaos.

……

I still have questions…

So do we. Some of which are:

  • Do the last minute concessions mean the code may never be used?
  • Are the big end of town the real winners? Did regional and independent media organisations miss out?
  • Could the news get blocked again?
  • Should media regulation be rethought completely? 
  • Why not just increase tax requirements on international digital businesses?

As we have said in our summary of the code at the beginning of February (which you can read here) , there are a lot of moving parts to this story. Datisan is keeping tabs on it and will update our blog as more information comes to hand.

….


TLDR: Facebook bans news in response to negotiations breaking down around the News Media Bargaining Code, then turns the news back on once the code is amended. Google and Facebook negotiate with publishers and no one is sure what the code will look like in practice yet.


We are always looking and listening to current news and information with the view to share it with our clients and followers. If you don’t already, sign up for our monthly enewsletter, the Datisan Download, to be in the know.

 Introducing Stephanie Ahfuni 

The new year has brought with it an exciting new start for the Datisan team.

Stephanie joins Datisan in our Brisbane office from Oh My Agency, where she honed her specialist skills in client relations/communications and task automation. Stephanie has over 2 and a half years of experience in the online marketing industry, working for the likes of Credit One Group and boutique digital marketing agencies.

When asked about her passion for the industry Stephanie commented,

I love being given the opportunity to really evaluate and examine data related to client journeys. To see where, when and why people do the things that they do online and how we as marketers can make their decision making process easier. It’s exciting to take information on how users interact with websites and other platforms and then use this to create simpler pathways to assist businesses and users in achieving their shared goals.

Datisan’s Head of AdTech Bharat Tarachandani said,

Stephanie is a valuable addition to the rapidly growing GMP AdTech team at Datisan on the back of new client growth. Her agency activations background puts her in a great position to understand challenges our client and agency teams are facing and how we can help better collaborate and implement solutions unlocking new growth opportunities for our clients.

When asked about joining Datisan Stephanie said,

I’m so excited to become a part of the team here, getting to work with some of the brightest minds in our industry and absorbing knowledge from them like a sponge! I’m keen to be able to take the time to really make a difference for my clients and assist them in making a difference for their customers.

Welcome to Team Datisan Stephanie!

Interested in working with Datisan? Check out our Careers Page for open roles or apply through our Talent Pool.

Get in touch to find out how we can help transform your business by booking a consultation with Mike Cornwell, here. 

Google News Showcase launches in Australia.

Australia got its first look at Google News Showcase this week (4 Feb).

The release, first announced in mid-2020, has gain a lot of attention in Australia in recent weeks, as Google highlighted News Showcase as an alternative option to current format of the proposed News Media Bargaining Code.

Google News Showcase is a new news experience that launched in some global markets in late 2020. Google has previously withheld bringing the News Showcase product to Australia over disagreement about the Australian government’s proposed news media code.

Alongside a considerable investment (AU $1.3b), Google has been bringing on more and more publishers and content. There are currently over 450 publications across a dozen countries including the UK, Germany, Brazil, and Canada.

Google’s intention with this experience is to let readers dive deeper into more complex stories and stay informed on the issues and events that local, national, and global newsrooms highlight through their Google News Showcase panels. 

……

Why should I care?

If, like us, you’ve been watching the media coverage surrounding the News Media Bargaining Code with interest over the month, the launch of News Showcase in Australia could be very important.

You can read our summary of the code and the media coverage on it here.

Google has said that the initial version will have a focus on local, regional and independent publishers, given the “importance of local information and the role it will play in people’s everyday lives”.

The roll-out of News Showcase comes off the back of Senators recently advising in parliamentary hearings that they couldn’t tell if it would be a suitable solution or compromise to the News Media Bargaining Code for fairly financially supporting news publishers, as the product was not yet tested in Australia.

Source: Media Watch, Google News war

At the beginning of Febraury, Nine (the parent company for publications like the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age) initially dismissed Google’s offer to pay media organisations with the launch of Showcase – stating it wouldn’t negotiate with Google prior to the code coming into effect. Read more

But two weeks later, we were reading that it was all sorted, with Nine and Google striking a $30m news deal.

……

How does it work?

Australian publishers will be paid to provide content for News Showcase. The initial publishers featured in the February 4 launch were among the first globally to sign up, providing early feedback and input on how the product could help bring their journalism to the fore for readers.

As this early version of News Showcase rolls out, the partnerships will provide financial support for some of the country’s independent, local and regional publications including The Canberra TimesThe Illawarra MercuryThe Saturday PaperCrikeyThe New Daily,  InDaily, InQueensland and The Conversation.

Showcase is an opportunity for our 14 daily titles to curate their trusted local journalism for Google News users and we are working constructively with Google to explore the exciting potential of this product to engage mobile audiences.

– Tony Kendall, CEO of Australian Community Media

Panels on News Showcase display an enhanced view of an article or articles, giving participating publishers more ways to bring important news to readers and explain it in their own voice, along with more direct control of presentation and branding. The panels will appear across Google News on Android, iOS and the mobile web, and in Discover on iOS, bringing high-value traffic to a publisher’s site.

Where available, Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site. This will let paywalled publishers grow their audiences and open an opportunity for people to read content they might not ordinarily see.

The expectation is that Google will bring more Australian media partners on board in the coming weeks and months as they further build out the experience for publishers and users, as well as use this as a compromise for some of the components of the News Media Bargaining Code. 

……

The final word

The Sydney Morning Herald has since said that the federal government has signalled that it may consider amendments to its digital media code if Google can convince large media companies to sign up, sparking a rush of last ditch negotiations.

As we have said in our summary of the code at the beginning of February(which you can read here) , there are a lot of moving parts to this story. Datisan is keeping tabs on it and will update our blog as more information comes to hand.

….

TLDR: Google has announced a new, curated news landing page that could provide the break in the stalemate around the News Media Bargaining code.

Source: Release / Google

We are always looking and listening to current news and information with the view to share it with our clients and followers. If you don’t already, why not sign up for our monthly enewsletter, the Datisan Download, to be in the know.

If you want to know more or have questions, you can talk to Datisan through our Contact page.